What is Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness?

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Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness (TEPSLF) is an extension of Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) designed to make the program easier to qualify for. However, the program has only limited funding, so it’s critical to apply as soon as possible if you think that you’re eligible.

What is Public Service Loan Forgiveness?

Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) is a federal student loan forgiveness program for those employed by government or not-for-profit organizations. If you work full time for one of these organizations and make 120 qualifying payments on your Direct Loan on an income-driven repayment plan, you could be eligible to have the remainder of your loan balance forgiven.

This program was established in 2007 and began accepting applications in 2017. When the application process started, it quickly became clear that not many people actually qualified. The latest data from EducationData.org shows that in the program’s first year, only 0.032 percent of applications were approved, and just over 1 percent of applications have been approved since.

Critics of the program have placed the blame on PSLF’s strict eligibility requirements and loan servicers’ failure to adequately communicate information about the program. The U.S. Department of Education cites missing information, a lack of qualifying payments and a lack of eligible loans as the main drivers behind ineligible applications.

How does Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness work?

In order to open up forgiveness opportunities to more applicants, Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act in 2018, which allowed for more individuals in public service to become eligible for loan forgiveness through TEPSLF.

The eligibility requirements for TEPSLF are the same as for PSLF, but more repayment plans are eligible — meaning you could qualify for TEPSLF if you have made 120 qualifying payments for PSLF, but you did so using the wrong type of payment plan. If you think that you may qualify for TEPSLF, you must first apply using the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) & Temporary Expanded PSLF (TEPSLF) Certification & Application. If you’re approved for TEPSLF, your remaining loan balance will be forgiven.

Requirements for Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness

To qualify for TEPSLF, you’ll need to be eligible for PSLF in every way except the qualifying repayment plan. Some criteria to keep in mind include:

  • Eligible repayment plan: While PSLF requires payments on specific income-driven repayment plans, TEPSLF expands the list of qualifying repayment plans to the Graduated Repayment Plan, the Extended Repayment Plan, the Consolidation Standard Repayment Plan and the Consolidation Graduated Repayment Plan.
  • Eligible loans: Only Direct Loans made out to students are eligible. Parents who took out Direct PLUS loans will not be able to apply for TEPSLF.
  • Employment: You must have been employed full time for a qualifying organization for at least 10 years.
  • Payment amount: The amount you paid 12 months prior to applying for TEPSLF and the last payment you made before applying must have been at least as much as you would have paid under an income-driven repayment plan.
  • Eligible payments: You must have made 120 on-time, in-full monthly payments while working for an eligible employer. These payments must have been made after Oct. 1, 2007.

How to apply for Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness

If you meet the eligibility requirements and want to apply for TEPSLF, here’s how to start:

  1. Fill out the PSLF form: You can find the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) & Temporary Expanded PSLF (TEPSLF) Certification & Application by either using the PSLF Help tool or downloading the form to complete fully on your own.
  2. Send in your application: Once the PSLF form is complete, you will send it to FedLoan Servicing. You can do this by fax at 717-720-1628 or by mail at U.S. Department of Education, FedLoan Servicing , P.O. Box 69184, Harrisburg, PA 17106-9184 .
  3. Provide additional information: If additional information is needed, you will receive a notice from FedLoan Servicing. Once you receive the notice, you have only 21 days to submit the needed information before your TEPSLF request is canceled.
  4. Wait for confirmation: If you are eligible for loan forgiveness through TEPSLF, you will receive a notification from FedLoan Servicing and your remaining loan amount will be forgiven. Any overpayments you made after your 120th payment will be refunded. You will also receive a notification if you are not eligible. If this is the case, you must continue making payments on your student loans.

Next steps

If your repayment plan is the only thing standing between you and PSLF, TEPSLF could be your key to getting student loan forgiveness. However, it’s important to act quickly, since funds are limited and are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. As you complete your application, pay attention to all of the requirements of the program and fill out the forms completely. While many applicants are rejected, the possibility of loan forgiveness is a reward well worth the work of applying.

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Written by
Emma Woodward
Contributing writer
Emma Woodward is a contributing writer for Bankrate. Emma writes about a range of student loans topics.
Edited by
Student loans editor